Thursday, October 30, 2008

Charges against Brandon Fields dismissed; Virginia fullback arrested and charged

Petty larceny charges against Nevada guard Brandon Fields have been dismissed:
Tim Randolph, chief prosecutor for the City of Sparks, said Wednesday the city lacked enough evidence for a conviction.

"Mr. Fields never left the store with anything that didn't belong to him," Randolph said. "Although the officers had probable cause to cite him along with the other two players, I didn't think that we could have proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Fields also did community service."

Randolph said Fields has done more than 40 hours of community service in the last week.

The Virginia football team faces new legal woes, but is not taking action against the player involved:

Rashawn Jackson, the team's No.1 fullback, was arrested this week by U.Va. police. He faces two felony charges related to an incident on Thanksgiving last year at a first-year dormitory at U.Va.

Jackson, a redshirt junior from Jersey City, N.J., was charged with grand larceny and breaking and entering. . . .

Cavaliers coach Al Groh was not available for comment. In a statement released last night, Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said: "At this time Rashawn Jackson is still a participating member of the football team. This matter will be handled within the team and the athletics department, and his final status with the team will not be determined until such time as the legal process is resolved or additional information becomes available. The athletics department will not have additional comment until this case is resolved." . . .

He reportedly stole a video-game console from Cauthen Dorm on Nov. 22, 2007. Why police waited nearly a year to charge Jackson is not clear. . . .

Legal Cases: Brenda Monk and FSU; Colorado Student-Athlete

Brenda Monk, the tutor at the center of the Florida State cheating scandal, plans to sue FSU for $600,000, alleging defamation:

Brenda Monk, one of the former Florida State employees alleged to be involved in an academic misconduct scandal, plans to sue the school for defamation, the St. Petersburg Times has learned.

A notice of that intent was sent to the school via registered mail on Wednesday, said her attorney, Brant Hargrove. That's a requirement under Florida law before one can file an action against a state entity.

In the letter supplied to the Times, Hargrove cited two main points:

• "Florida State (the University) failed to adequately investigate facts surrounding an allegation by the University that Dr. Monk failed to perform her duties as a Learning Specialist for Florida State University."

• "The University, after failing to properly investigate said facts, then released for public consumption, derogatory and defamatory statements alleging impropriety by Dr. Monk."

Monk, 59, a Ph.D. who was hired by FSU in January 2001 then resigned in the wake of the scandal in July 2007, will be seeking $600,000 from her loss of employment income and retirement benefits. She is now a principal at the school at the Lake City Correctional Facility.

RyAnne Ridge, a former member of the women's basketball teams at Tulsa and Colorado, has filed a breach of contract suit over the failure of Colorado to provide her a scholarship:

RyAnne Ridge, a member of the CU team for parts of two seasons, filed a breach-of-contract suit against CU and the school’s Board of Regents earlier this month in Denver District Court.

The suit alleges she was verbally promised a scholarship by women’s coach Kathy McConnell-Miller and never received it after transferring from the University of Tulsa. It also claims the coach made contact with Ridge while she was still playing at Tulsa, a recruiting violation CU self-reported to the NCAA in June.

CU is still on NCAA probation from an investigation into the athletic department’s undercharging of walk-on athletes for certain types of meals. That probation lasts until next summer, but Patrick O’Rourke, the university’s chief litigation counsel, said Wednesday the women’s basketball “secondary violation” likely won’t affect the probation.

“We’ve just been served with the legal paperwork, and what I’ve reviewed demonstrates that Ms. Ridge had an expectation of having an opportunity to be walk-on player (instead of a scholarship player),” O’Rourke said. “But we will investigate the claims, and I look forward to hearing about the conversations that Ms. Ridge claims to have occurred.” . . .

A student-athlete suing over a scholarship is rare, according to Wake Forest University law professor Timothy Davis. Davis is an expert in the field and said he hasn’t heard of a decision similar to Ridge’s suit involving a transfer student-athlete.

“There isn’t much in precedence,” Davis said Wednesday. “But if the evidence is there, a court might be willing to entertain it.”

I am no lawyer, but the old joke about a verbal contract being as good as the paper it is written on comes to mind. As things stand, however, it is important to note that scholarships, year-to-year, are de facto granted at the will of the coach. This remains one of the principle flaws in the NCAA scholarship structure, and it means that the futures of student-athletes like Ms. Ridge are at the mercy of their coaches.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Coach, Another Scandal

Jon Valdez, ertswhile coach of the University of Illinois Men's Gymnastics team, resigned recently for the classic 'personal reasons':
A University of Illinois gymnastics coach who trained U.S. gymnasts at the Beijing Olympics has resigned for "personal reasons," a school official said Monday, and a published report said he was being investigated for possible misconduct.

Jon Valdez left his job as men's assistant coach on Oct. 17, Assistant Athletic Director Kent Brown told The Associated Press on Monday night.
The details are slowly emerging. First came news that he was under investigation:
Responding to a Tribune inquiry, Robin Kaler, the university's associate chancellor for public affairs, said, "There is an investigation into a camera found in a locker room on campus."
The mind boggles. . . It now emerges that this is not the only thing that is on Valdez's plate:
A University of Illinois gymnastics coach who resigned this month for unspecified personal reasons is facing a drunk-driving charge in Wisconsin.

Waukesha County court records indicate that Jon Valdez was charged with operating while under the influence after his Sept. 18 arrest. He's pleaded not guilty.
Watch this space. . .

Update (1) 8:36 PM

More details from this AP story; we are dealing with a video camera:

Northcutt and university officials have declined to say whether the video camera investigation was a factor in Valdez's resignation, which the attorney said was voluntary. University police hope to finish their investigation into the video camera by the end of the week and send it to Champaign County prosecutors, who would decide whether to file charges.

"Right now, no charges have been filed. And we have not been told by anyone that charges will be filed," Northcutt said.

A student found the small wireless camera inside a locker Sept. 25, university police Lt. Roy Acree said. It was pointed out of the locker through a small opening and "would be able to capture images of people changing their clothes," he said.

He declined to say which locker room the camera was in, other than that it wasn't a room used by students outside the university's athletics programs. Acree said the camera wasn't transmitting images to a computer or over the Internet, but wouldn't say whether investigators found any stored images.

Ugly, ugly. . .

Indiana Hires Fred Glass as New AD

Indiana is slowly establishing a new normal following the Kelvin Sampson debacle. All that remains is the NCAA's announcement of penalties, given todays announcement that Fred Glass has been hired as the new Athletic Director:

Fred Glass, an Indianapolis attorney, was introduced as Indiana's next athletic director Tuesday morning.

"When your alma mater comes calling, that is truly an honor," said Glass, who earned bachelor's and law degrees from IU in 1981 and 1984, respectively. "Indiana University athletics have long been a benchmark of excellence - both academically and athletically - and I will do everything within my power to enable our athletic teams to meet all the expectations of our great fans."

Other comments seem to indicate that Glass intends to clean up Indiana's tarnished reputation:

"I accepted this job because I love big, tough challenges," Glass said during a news conference. "We had been very proudly promoting that we had never had a major infraction in 50 years, and I think we can still do that. But that's why I say job one is making sure Indiana University follows the rules." . . .

"Indiana is in my blood and I love IU. But this is not about the past, it's about the future," Glass said. "I want Indiana athletics to become known as a a national leader for three things: Following the rules, a commitment to academics and, finally, excellence in athletics."

Best wishes to Glass!

Failed Drug Tests, Shoplifting Charges, and Deferred Justice

Failed drug tests in the North Texas football program do not indicate a drug problem, says their coach:

Fifteen University of North Texas football players failed a drug test conducted this fall at the request of head coach Todd Dodge, according to documents obtained by the Denton Record-Chronicle through the Freedom of Information Act.

Drug tests were conducted on a pool of 86 football players selected by the coaching staff. UNT tested members of the team who were contributing on a regular basis. Fifteen of those tests, or 17 percent, were positive.

The university did not release the names of the players or what drugs they tested positive for.

“I don’t think we have a problem with drugs, but I will say that it’s every coach’s prerogative to test his team,” Dodge said. “It’s a great tool to help players stay away from drugs and temptations. When I talked to my team about drug testing all of them, I told them that if there was one young man on our team who secretly needed help, if it saved one young man from getting in trouble or ending up dead, then it is worth it.”

Two of the Nevada basketball players arrested for shoplifting earlier in the month have plead not guilty:

Nevada starting guard Brandon Fields and freshman forward Ahyaro Phillips have pleaded not guilty to a shoplifting charge stemming from an incident earlier this month at a Sparks sporting goods store.

In the same case involving a Scheels store, freshman point guard London Giles pleaded guilty Wednesday to petty larceny, and was fined $350 plus court costs of $107.

All three players have been suspended indefinitely by coach Mark Fox.

Charges have been filed in the hit-and-run accident which killed Jayson Ray, a UNC mascot, last spring:

A Paramus man was indicted today on charges that he struck and killed a University of North Carolina mascot with his SUV last year.

Armen Hovsepian’s driver’s license was suspended when the Mercury Mountaineer he was driving hit Tar Heels mascot Jayson Ray in March 2007 as he walked along a shoulder on Route 4 East, Bergen County prosecutors said.

Ray, 21, and his team were staying in a nearby hotel for the NCAA East Regional finals.

Hovsepian’s 52-year-old father, Gajik, told authorities that he was the one who was driving the SUV, and based on his statements, investigators ruled the crash accidental, police said at the time.

Several months later, investigators received a tip from a witness that it was the son who was the driver, they said.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Abuse of NCAA Transfer Rules

There is a must-read article by Dana O'Neil at on the abuse of hardship transfer waivers by coaches:

Last season, the NCAA granted immediate eligibility to Tyler Smith after he transferred from Iowa to Tennessee to be near his gravely ill father, who lived in Pulaski, Tenn.

The decision, invoking a hardship waiver that covers everything from injury to illness to financial hardship has been in place since 1991, was lauded by many as a student-friendly act on the part of the NCAA.

Like most paths paved with good intentions, this one has been trampled.

Players are coming out of the woodwork with ailing parents or other family members, begging to head back home … or at least in the extended geographic footprint of home.

It's got coaches piping mad on both sides of the tables, with some calling this just another example of savvy rule manipulation and circumvention, and others arguing it's an effort to do the right thing by a kid and, yes, perhaps by a program.

At Big East Media Day on Wednesday, Jim Boeheim and Bobby Gonzalez were separated by just a few tables but the two coaching peers may as well have walked 20 paces turned, and fired.

"To me the waiver makes absolutely no sense," said Boeheim, a National Association of Basketball Coaches board member who has been working with the NABC to convince the NCAA that the rule needs to be tossed. "It's the most ridiculous thing that's ever happened. If you need to come home to be with someone in your family who is sick, that's when you absolutely should sit out. How are you going to be with someone who is sick when you're playing basketball, going to practice and going to games?"

But Gonzalez, who has two players waiting in the wings, sees things a touch differently. Herb Pope, who came to Seton Hall from New Mexico State, is awaiting an appeal from the NCAA after his initial attempt at immediate eligibility was rejected, and Keon Lawrence, who transferred from Missouri to Seton Hall, is expected to file for a hardship waiver so he can play in the second semester.

Pope, from Pittsburgh, was shot four times while a senior in high school. He chose New Mexico State, Gonzalez said, to be far away from his hometown. But when coach Reggie Theus left for a job with the Sacramento Kings, Pope wanted to come home. . . .

The truth is Pope, a one-time Parade All-American, and Lawrence, who led Missouri in scoring last year, would turn bottom-feeding Seton Hall into a bona-fide player in the crowded Big East. The Pirates were picked to finish 13th in the 16-team league.

Critics argue that's all Gonzalez cares about, that the cry to do good by the kids is nothing more than a smoke screen to do good by his program.

To which Gonzalez, who is nothing if not a coaching maverick, replies, "And?"

"People like to say that I'm taking advantage of the rules to get a kid eligible. That's what every coach in America is doing," Gonzalez said. "It's so easy for all these coaches on the NABC board to sit here and say all this stuff about how this is wrong. Let me tell you something: If they had a 6-8 All-American and some rule they could use to get him eligible, it would be like they all of a sudden found religion or found Jesus."

Given his handling of the Michael Glover case, it is no great suprise that Gonzalez's response boils down to 'We will attempt to win at all costs since everyone else is.' It would be poetic justice if the NCAA took Gonzalez at his word; that this is primarily about the success of his program, not the welfare of Herb Pope, and denied the waiver.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Medical Travails; FSU's Brave New World

Georgia Tech guard D'Andre Bell is out for the season:

Senior starter D’Andre Bell said he was always taught to have a Plan A, B, C and D.

“Plan A seems to be put on hold,” the 6-foot-6 wing said Wednesday. “Now I’m going to reach for Plan B.”

Tech announced Wednesday that a condition called spinal stenosis will keep Bell from playing this season.

Diving for a loose ball during an Oct. 10 conditioning workout, Bell’s head collided with Zachery Peacock’s leg. Bell felt numbness, then tingling in his extremities.

An examination by Dr. John Heller, a spine surgeon at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, revealed Bell had an abnormal narrowing, or stenosis, in the cervical portion of his spine.

It’s a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord. Bell needs surgery, whether or not he wants to play basketball again, and plans to have the operation over winter break.

“It’s truly a blessing that we found it,” Bell said. “I’m looking at my situation from all the positive angles, and I’m just going to play the cards that I’ve been dealt.”

Best wishes to D'Andre on a successful surgery and a full and quick recovery.

Santa Clara forward John Bryant is recovering well from a stabbing incident on September 27:

"I'm back to 100 percent right now," Bryant said. "I have a couple of scars, nothing big. It's not bad."

During the first weekend of school, Bryant and a few friends left a party and exchanged words with three men. One of the men knocked Bryant to the ground and another came at him from behind and stabbed him. He was knifed twice on the right side of his lower back and once on the left—with three inch-long scars to show for it. He needed 14 stitches to close the wounds.

"He was talking and we said, 'We don't want to mess with you' and started walking away," Bryant said. "He's not a good character. You could just tell. Wrong place, wrong time."

Bryant considers himself fortunate—and he said he's learned a lesson about not putting himself in situations where bad things could happen. He knows this could have turned out much worse or even been life-threatening.

"You reach to your back and there's all that blood and you wonder what's going on. I was a little scared," he said. "I was lucky not having any internal injuries. It just really put things in perspective. The coaches are always talking about being in the right place at the right time."

The suspect in the case was arrested for armed robbery soon after the incident:

Santa Clara police arrested Jose Domingo Segovia, 18, of Santa Clara on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the stabbing of John Bryant, a star center on the men's basketball team. . . .

Early Saturday, police received reports that four Santa Clara students had been robbed at knife point in the 500 block of Washington Street, just a few blocks off campus. As officers responded to the scene, they spotted the suspects' vehicle, a 2002 gold Hyundai, and attempted to stop the men. The suspects abandoned the car and tried to escape on foot, according to police Lt. Mike Sellers.

Officers set up a perimeter and began receiving calls from neighbors about people hiding in their back yard. Police found two of the men hiding in a yard; they later identified and arrested Segovia as the third suspect in the robbery.

Florida State wide receiver Bert Reed has been suspended for Saturday's game - for violating FSU's policy on class attendance (!!!):

After Wednesday's practice, Bowden said: "Bert Reed, to save a lot of speculation, is suspended because of missing classes.

"I'm afraid some people were making too much out of it, making it into something else. It's missing classes."

Reed was disciplined under a more strict athletic department policy put in place at the request of FSU President T.K. Wetherell because of what he views as high absenteeism.

A student-athlete with "three unexcused absences in any course" will be ineligible to play in one game. Four unexcused absences will result in missing 30 percent of that season's competition.

Is FSU truly entering a Brave New World of academic accountability? One can only hope. . .

Monday, October 20, 2008

Myles Brand and Newspeak

"The NCAA is at war with academic underachievement. The NCAA has always been at war with academic underachievement."

No, Myles Brand did not say that. But that was the first thing that came to mind when he issued his latest self-congratulatory missive on academic reform and student-athlete graduation rates. Although Dr. Brand does not have a history of taking criticism well, here is my response:

What are you going to believe...myth or the facts?

Do you want to continue believing the popular myth, the false perception, the uninformed bias that student-athletes as a lot are dumb jocks?
This is a classic straw man argument Myles. 'Dumb Jock' is your term. What critics are employing it?
Or do you want to believe the data that say student-athletes are, on average, graduating at higher rates from college than other students?
As I have noted before this is the truth. And it is a good story. Stick with it, but also do us all a favor and be open about the failures in NCAA athletics rather than white-washing them.
Last week, I wrote about the dumb jock myth. It has been around a long time. It pervades popular culture about the academic status of student-athletes. From the Broadway musical Good News in 1927 to Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons in 2005, the perception persists that college athletes - especially football players and male basketball players - are coming to campus only to play sports and avoid classrooms.
The perception exists because it is partly true. Admit it and address it. Don't ignore it.
Commenting on last week's blog entitled "The 'Dumb Jock' Myth is Dumb," craigjjs wrote, "Right, the jocks are all Rhodes Scholars. Let's hear the stats for the major sports."

Okay, here are the facts when you look at the graduation rates released earlier this week. These are the rates that include the success and failure of transfer student-athletes (which the federal rates simply ignore as academic dropouts and undercount by more than 37,000 students annually).
But IGNORE students who leave eligible, but do not transfer. "The GSR also allows institutions to subtract student-athletes who leave their institutions prior to graduation as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete had they remained." Tell us Myles, what was the fate of the 18,655 students who, according to your own numbers, 'Left Eligible'? So long as they are excluded from your calculations the Graduation Success Rate will be no such thing. Unless, that is, you are a 1984 fan. Given this flaw, the statistics rolled out here are as meaningful as Stalinist production quotas:
For the freshmen football student-athletes in the Football Bowl Championship institutions (the ones who draw the most attention and the largest revenue producers) who entered in 2001, the graduation rate is 66 percent. Two-thirds of all football players graduate in six years (the same time span the federal government uses for all students).

Basketball student-athletes who were part of the same cohort at the same institutions graduated at 65 percent, one percentage point lower.

When you look at the entire class of freshmen from the 2001 cohort, the rate is 79 percent. Nearly eight of every 10 student-athletes earn a degree in six years. And every demographic is doing better than their counterparts in the student body (as measured by the federal calculation) except for white males who trail by two percentage points.

All of these numbers have been trending upward over the last six years. If, as I noted last week, you count student-athletes who return to school over a 10 year period, the graduation rate is 88 percent, almost nine of 10!
What is the graduation rate for all students over ten years? What is the graduation rate for all students under the GSR method? Your statistics are meaningless without a point of comparison.
So what, craigjjs contends. "You forgot to compare the majors when you cooked up your statistics. I would guess that the 'recreational science' and similar majors tend to receive higher grades and find graduating a bit easier than those of the serious students."

We had the same concern, so we looked at majors for Division I student-athletes in 2004. Student-athletes were underrepresented by about four percent compared to all other students in the humanities and by about 9 percent in sciences. They were overrepresented compared to all other students by about five percent in social sciences and three percent in business. Both groups were about the same in education majors.
Interesting information, but your analysis is begging. In fact it is nonexistent.
Across the spectrum of Division I, there is little evidence of "clustering," or disproportionate numbers of student-athletes in certain majors.

Let me be clear! You can find examples of football or men's basketball programs with unacceptably low graduation rates. You can also find teams where unexplainably large numbers of football or men's basketball athletes are clustered in certain majors.
So are you going to do anything about it? Will you, for example, address the General Studies Program at the University of Michigan?
But these examples are not the rule. They drive the myth. They are no more valid as a generalization than to argue that all student-athletes are great scholars, which some are.
Silly me for asking. I guess you are not going to anything about it except continue on your merry rhetorical way.
What we have seen during the last few years - and what we will see increasingly in the future - are trends that in time will have most teams in most sports at most institutions graduating above or well above the 60 percent threshold where other students on average graduate.
By what measure? Federal standards or your own confected numbers?
Why do we know this and what is the cause?
Caveat lector, self-congratulation ahead.
Four years ago, the presidents in Division I put in place the most comprehensive package of academic reforms ever in the history of college sports. The package had three key components:

* Higher standards--Entering freshmen had to present successful completion of 16 academic core courses in high school and a sliding-scale achievement on both grade-point average and standardized tests. Enrolled student-athletes had to make 20 percent progress each year toward a declared major (and one open to all students).

* Better metrics--We look at academic performance semester by semester to track whether members of a team are on course to graduate, and we examine the success or failure of all student-athletes, including transfers.

* Sanctions--Teams that fail to meet threshold requirements each year will lose scholarships and teams that fail to perform academically over time could lose additional scholarships, be withheld from post-season tournaments or even be decertified.

We've never taken such an approach before. There is no place for low-performing teams to run and hide. Next spring, the first post-season sanctions will be leveled against teams that show a pattern of academic underachieving and no improvement. If that fails to get the attention of coaches, athletics directors and presidents, the entire athletics program could be withheld from NCAA championships.
Forgive me for being underwhelmed by scholarship sanctions which can remove, at most, ten percent of the scholarships - which amounts to two basketball scholarships or nine football scholarships.
That's going to leave a mark.
Hardly. Especially when so many teams flunking by the NCAA's own standards are merely warned. Is the same approach going to be adopted where post-season eligibility is concerned?
Our goal from the outset has been to change behavior. We want student-athletes to get an education and graduate. We would rather reward improvement than punish low performance. But we are dead serious about better results.
If you are dead serious about better results, it is time to get dead serious about punishing low performance. Placing 100% rather than 10% of scholarships in jeopardy would be a good start.
The dumb jock myth has always been an unfortunate generalization that unfairly stigmatized the great majority of student-athletes, including the majority of football and male basketball athletes. And the academic reform effort currently underway makes it even more untrue.

So, what are you going to depend on now for your perception of college athletes as uninformed bias that says all jocks are dumb or the undeniable data that shows on average student-athletes are doing as well or better than other students?
I am certainly not going to depend on YOUR data Myles; at the moment I have more trust in the government than I do in the NCAA.
It's a shame to let the facts get in the way of a good story, but they just don't support the myth that jocks are dumb.
Well done rhetorically Myles; begin and end with the straw man argument.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Soap Opera News; Random Misbehaviour; UD on Graduation Rates; D-Day for FSU

Oh, brother: Terry Bowden says Tommy didn't meet expectations

"So, did Tommy Bowden deserve what happened to him Monday? Unfortunately, yes," Terry Bowden wrote on "He deserved it because he, of all people, knew what to expect when he got into this business. We grew up in it.

"He knew what to expect when he went to Clemson. He knew that no matter where you go, there is an expectation of success that must be met. After nine years at Clemson, he knew exactly what those expectations were and he knew they had not been met."
Iowa coach Ferentz suspends son from all team activities
James Ferentz, a freshman offensive lineman, was cited by Iowa City Police for drinking underage early Friday morning.

In a statement, Kirk Ferentz said he was extremely disappointed with his son's behavior. He says his son is suspended from all team activities for an indefinite time and will also be required to attend counseling sessions and perform community service for the next six weeks.
G Fields, two freshman suspended indefinitely by Nevada
Nevada starting guard Brandon Fields and two incoming freshmen have been suspended from the basketball team indefinitely after being cited for misdemeanor petty larceny, Wolf Pack coach Mark Fox said Thursday.

London Giles, a 6-foot-3 guard from Dallas, and Ahyaro Phillips, a 6-8 forward from New Orleans, were suspended along with Fields after their release by Sparks police following an undisclosed incident on Wednesday, Fox said in a statement.

"I am extremely disappointed to learn of this situation," Fox said. "I do not know all of the facts right now and will not have any further comment until I have a better understanding of the situation."
What wonderful leadership from a returning starter. What wonderful leadership from their coach.

See the following posts by University Diaries on release of NCAA propaganda I mean graduation rates:

Snapshots from Home: Graduation Rates

San Diego State: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Notes from the Intellectual Desert
Scathing Online Schoolmarm
The University UD Calls. . .

Meanwhile, FSU faces the NCAA Infractions Committee today. There is a good wrap-up of the story here by Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel, and he is doing his best to live-blog the action here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Footnotes, Foreign Misadventure, and Random Misbehaviour

Michael Glover's lawsuit against the NCAA and the Big East over his (in)eligibility has been dismissed in federal court:

He argued in a lawsuit in August that the NCAA never gave a reason for invalidating his entire senior year transcript from American Christian Academy in Pennsylvania.

The NCAA argued that the Rhode Island federal court system had no jurisdiction over the case, and the Big East argued that it didn't belong in the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres dismissed both defendants from the lawsuit after hearing arguments Tuesday.

BYU forward Chris Collinsworth was stabbed Tuesday night while working as a Mormon missionary in Sydney, Australia:

Collinsworth's father, Jeff, said from his Mapleton, Utah, home that his son told him that he and his companion on the mission, David Ferguson, were walking in Sydney when they were jumped by a pack of men. Jeff Collinsworth said a scuffle ensued with both his son and Ferguson being stabbed multiple times. He said Chris' shirt was pulled over his head and he was stabbed in the back. The fight ended when a car came up behind the fight and the driver turned on his lights and honked his horn.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Ferguson was stabbed in his hand, tendons were cut and he required surgery. Jeff Collinsworth said that his son did not require surgery. There were, however, stab wounds close to his son's kidney so multiple scans of his internal organs were conducted to ensure that he didn't have any internal injuries.

Best wishes to Chris on a full and quick recovery.

Notre Dame Tight End Will Yeatman has been suspended for the season:

Because of the Sept. 21 arrest, Will Yeatman faces up to 180 days in jail for violation of the terms of a previous case, in which he pleaded guilty in February to misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving.

The plea was part of a deferred sentencing agreement made with St. Joseph County prosecutors, who dropped a third charge of criminal recklessness. The sophomore, who also plays lacrosse at Notre Dame, had been arrested and charged Jan. 28 after he drove his car on a campus sidewalk.

Under the one-year agreement, the drunken driving charge would have been dismissed if Yeatman did not commit any crimes during that time.

But Yeatman was arrested and charged Sept. 21 with minor consumption of alcohol, resisting arrest and false informing after police raided the house. The last two charges have since been dropped.

Michigan running back Michael Milano has been suspended for the season:

The university's department of public safety is investigating an alleged aggravated assault on Michigan hockey player Steve Kampfer that took place at approximately 2:25 a.m. Sunday in Ann Arbor. The incident report states that the victim was taken to University Hospital.

Police identified the alleged attacker as a 22-year-old male from Ohio. Milano, 22, hails from Rocky River, Ohio. A 5-foot-7, 193-pound walk-on running back who spent two years on Michigan's wrestling team, Milano appeared in two games last season but has yet to play this year.

San Diego State forward Lorrenzo Wade has been suspended indefinitely:

Wade was released on bail after pleading not guilty to first-degree burglary of an inhabited dwelling in San Diego Superior Court. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.

Police say a woman in an apartment in the city's College district woke to the sound of knocking at her door on Sept. 21 and then heard people enter the apartment. She waited until the intruders left before going outside and confronting Wade and his companion.

Wade, who lives in the same apartment complex as the woman, turned himself in to police on Oct. 7.

Wade's attorney, Richard Muir, insisted his client didn't take the television. He said he knocked on the door to see if she could move her car.

Bridge for sale! Bridge for sale!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NCAA Dishes Latest Propaganda; IHE Swallows

On one hand I am quite happy. As a group, NCAA student-athletes continue to graduate at a rate of 64%, 2% better than the general student populations. On the other, it is disgraceful that the NCAA continues to utilize confected measures like the GSR, or 'Graduation Success Rates' to propagandize its success. Overall, the story is good, but this sort of Salt Bath Writing* serves another purpose - allowing the NCAA to ignore its areas of abject failure, since as graduation rates in Football and Men's Basketball which remain under 50%. What really makes my blood boil, however, is journalism on the latest data-manipulation efforts by the NCAA which reads like an NCAA press release. Such is the case with this article, published today at Inside Higher Ed:
Myles Brand, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, wants to cease the propagation of “the so-called ‘dumb jock’ myth,” as he puts it. Trumpeting new data showing that NCAA Division I athletes are graduating at the highest rates ever — even as players in high-profile sports such as baseball, football and men’s and women’s basketball continue to lag — Brand and other NCAA officials argue that recently adopted and stricter academic accountability rules are steadily sidelining old stereotypes.
How about someone from outside the NCAA? Did you bother to interview them? If so, why are they not quoted in the article?
The NCAA reports graduation rates for Division I athletes in two ways — the Department of Education-developed federal rate and an NCAA-developed “Graduation Success Rate.” The GSR, as it is called, was developed by the NCAA to assess long-term academic success at the request of many member colleges who found the federal graduation rates misleading. Unlike the federal figure, the GSR does not penalize institutions for departing transfers who leave in good academic standing; it also counts incoming transfer students and midyear enrollees.
Of course then. It must all be good. The dirty little secret is that the GSR "allows institutions to subtract student-athletes who leave their institutions prior to graduation as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete had they remained." In other words calling it a 'Graduation Success Rate' is Orwellian language at its best.
By counting these athletes, the GSR tracks about 28,000 more students than the 72,000 tracked by the federal graduation data. And since they take into account athletes who left their institutions in good standing, GSR percentages are higher than federal graduation rates in virtually all cases. Still, not all athletes who leave in good standing enter another institution. Todd Petr, NCAA managing director of research, said 90 percent of students in good standing who leave college transfer successfully to another institution.
Whoops, Todd let some of the fine print slip out. 90% 'Transfer Successfully', which does not, of course, mean that they graduate.
Both the federal and the NCAA metrics, however, determine their percentages based on the number of students who graduate within six years of entering college. . . .
Except that the GSR deliberately leaves some students out so the numbers can be inflated.
As the federal rate is the only method with which to compare athletes to other students — because no data comparable to the Graduation Success Rate exist — it shows that two percent more Division I athletes graduate in six years than the 62 percent national average for all students at Division I colleges and universities. . . .
At least the author of this article did not fall for comparing general student-body graduation rate with NCAA GSR data. That Apples to Oranges comparison is, of course, what the NCAA would like you to make.
“We are continuing to make progress on the aspirational goal, which I very much advocate, of an 80 percent GSR,” Brand said during a news conference in which he further detailed some of the statistical improvements in the seven years that the NCAA has used its own metric to determine graduation rates. “The ultimate success, though, is in the lives of the student-athletes themselves. Approximately 4,000 additional student-athletes graduated from college over the past six years because of these increased graduation rates and increased academic performance.” . . .
Myles Brand, why don't you make it an aspirational goal to achieve a graduation rate in all sports which is at least equal to the overall 62% graduation rate in the general student body? No need to answer. We know. That would undermine the revenue sports like Basketball and Football which ultimately pay your salary.

What all of this systematically ignores, however, are the immense advantages given to Student-Athletes. One wonders how well John and Jane Student would perform if they were given exclusive dorms, special refectories, access to free private tutoring, and were funneled into General Studies and Sports Management majors. A sight higher than 64% one would guess. Of course most student-athletes do not take those 'easy majors', but they are among the unfortunate friendly-fire casualties from the latest salvo of propaganda from the NCAA.

*See University Diaries for October 22, 2007

FSU Scandal: Brenda Monk Breaks Her Silence

Brenda Monk, the tutor at the center of the FSU cheating scandal, has broken her silence and will travel at her own expense to the Infractions Hearing in Indianapolis on Saturday:

"I worked 16 hours a day," said Monk, 59, who is now a principal at the school at the Lake City Correctional Facility. "If I wanted to be dishonest and type the papers for the students, I probably could have had an eight-hour work day like everybody else in the office. But I wanted the students to learn. I am not a dishonest person, and I want the NCAA to know I'm not a dishonest person."

The school also has alleged that she instructed one student-athlete to enter answers to an online test on behalf of another student-athlete, the situation that led to her being put on administrative leave in April 2007 (and "thrown out of my office") and her resignation in July. She said that it was a lapse in judgment — not fraud — and that fatigue was a factor.

Actually, it seems to have been simultaneously a lapse of judgment, AND fraud.

"I never want to use an excuse, but I was tired," she said. "And I made a mistake. … I never got a chance to talk about it and I would have liked to have had that. … One mistake should not have ended my career at Florida State."

I am having a great deal of difficulty in being sympathetic. It was, rightly, a career-ending mistake.

Lastly, the school has said Monk was guilty of another mistake, providing at least six student-athletes with answers for online quizzes in an online music course, either directly or with a study guide she had compiled. FSU has admitted that there was confusion about when the class allowed open-book quizzes.

She has denied giving out answers. The unnamed tutor, however, told investigators that he saw Monk helping student-athletes on quizzes and followed her lead. He's said to have helped 54 student-athletes; he also said Goldsmith told him to provide test answers.

"It was unfortunate that the music class was not monitored the way it should have been monitored and that the tutor was not monitored the way he should have monitored," Monk said, echoing FSU's reports, including that no coaches were involved. "I have to take part of the blame because I was part of the staff. … But when you read it, it's as if I orchestrated the whole thing."

The best potential spin for Monk that can be put on this is that the fraud happened under her watch. Not an enviable situation to explain your way out of. . .

1. FSU Cheating Scandal
2. Florida State Scandal: Kudos to President Wetherell
3. STUDENT-Athlete Garrett Johnson Fires Both Barrels
4. No Sunshine in Florida?
5. FSU Scandal: Brenda Monk Breaks Her Silence

Monday, October 13, 2008

Link Roundup October 13

Gregg Doyel pleads: Don't Hose the Hoosiers

Indiana basketball is laying there, belly exposed, hands tied behind its back. The NCAA is standing overhead, holding a very large hammer. About to swing. Here it comes ...

Don't do it, NCAA. Please. Don't hammer Indiana. The Hoosiers have had enough. . . .

The NCAA is supposed to catch cheaters and see that they are punished, so let's do some inventory here. Indiana got caught -- check. Indiana has been punished -- check. But if the NCAA feels the need to flex its muscle later this month when it announces its findings against Indiana, here's an idea:

Show mercy to the innocents left behind at Indiana, and announce that Kelvin Sampson has received the NCAA's death penalty -- a lifetime ban from college sports. Can't coach again. Can't work in administration. Can't even walk into a college basketball arena to use the bathroom.

I wholeheardtedly agree with Doyel on Sampson, but the NCAA does need to make an example of Indiana.

Doug Lederman notes the on-field success of Northwestern and Vandy

Entering this weekend’s games, teams like Stanford and Rice have winning records in their conferences, and Duke University’s squad, long an Atlantic Coast Conference doormat, has a 3-2 record. . . .

But teams from two selective universities, in particular, are prompting most of the discussion about this being the year of the brainiac universities in big-time football. Vanderbilt and Northwestern are both undefeated, at 5-0, and both of them are ranked in the top 25 in at least one of the key college football polls (Vanderbilt in the low teens, and Northwestern just sneaking into the USA Today coaches’ poll at 22nd).

No thanks, Doug, for giving both teams the Insider Higher Ed kiss of death. Both teams lost on Saturday, with Mississippi State taking down Vanderbilt 17-14, and Michigan State whooping Northwestern 37-20.

University Diaries unleashes her latest tirade against San Diego State

If you’re University Diaries, it just doesn’t get any better than San Diego State University, a bottomless jockhole run by a president who can’t think of anything to do with the university other than run losing plays on its sports fields. Eaten out of house and home by athletics, SDSU has no money, poor academic quality, and shitty infrastructure. President Weber’s solution is to raise student fees enormously to pay … not for classrooms and professors, but for loser sports teams.

JoePa quietly coaches Penn State to a 7-0 record

MADISON, Wis. -- Forget the press box. Joe Paterno could have coached this one from his living room.

A sore hip relegated Paterno to a perch high above the field for the second week in a row -- and once again, not having their iconic leader on the sidelines didn't matter to No. 6 Penn State.

NCAA confirms penalties against Arizona State over staged fight

INDIANAPOLIS---The Administrative Committee of the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet has upheld the sanctions imposed against the Arizona State baseball head coach, as well as two student-athletes, for their actions during the 2008 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship.

The sanctions stemmed from the altercation between Arizona State baseball student-athletes Brett Wallace and Ike Davis, in the moments before their 2008 Super Regional game against Fresno State University. Arizona State University had appealed the penalties assessed against head coach Pat Murphy and student-athletes Brett Wallace and Ike Davis.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Geeks, Freaks, and Football

Team A has an aggregate total of 11 points in the Fulmer Cup. Team B has scored a paltry 3.

University A, only 5 years ago, was placed on NCAA probation for ‘Lack of Institutional Control.’ University B has had a grand total of 1 Major Infractions case, which occurred 16 years ago and was not serious enough to warrant probation.

University A has an athletics budget of $52 million, including $378,000 in salary and perks for its Athletic Director, and also has a Deputy Athletics Director, nine Associate Athletic Directors, with a tenth Associate Athletic Director starting next month who will make $222,000 in salary and perks.

University B has an athletics budget of $40 million, but abolished its Athletics Department five years ago, and coaches now report directly to the University’s Vice Chancellor for University Affairs.

Team A’s stadium, which opened in 1994, has a record capacity of 44,267, and is going through a $102 million expansion. Team B’s stadium, which opened in 1981, seats 39,790 and is undergoing $42 million in renovations.

Team A’s coach makes a base salary of $1.6 million, with incentives for another $400,000, a side payment of $250,000 from a sports marketing company, in addition to perks which include country-club fees, a new SUV, and unlimited use of helicopters and jets for University purposes. He has also received a total of 900,000 in interest-free loans which are being forgiven at a rate of $100,000 a year. Team B’s coach makes $1 million a year.

Team A graduates 46% of its football players, Team B 85%. On his off day last Saturday, the starting Right Tackle for Team B spent 5 hours in the Library.

One of these teams has a 5-0 record, including wins against two ranked teams, and its opponents have 4 National Championships and 46 bowl wins amongst them. One of these teams has a 1-4 record, with its sole win coming against a 2-2 FCS team in one of the worst DI conferences in the country. Which is which?

Team A, Rutgers, is the poster-child for what has become the conventional wisdom in the NCAA – that you must spend your way to the top. Team B is Vanderbilt, but it is Vanderbilt that has the 5-0 record.

Kudos all-around to the Vanderbilt administration, its football coach Bobby Johnson, and, most importantly, its STUDENT-Athletes on their 14-13 win over Auburn yesterday. There is an excellent article by Chris Low at ESPN which provides an excellent insight into the program. Here are some telling excerpts:

It's only been since World War II that the No. 19-ranked Commodores last started a season 5-0, but that's the opportunity that awaits them Saturday when No. 14-ranked Auburn visits Vanderbilt Stadium in the kind of storyline usually reserved for Hollywood.

Come on. Vanderbilt, a top-20 school academically, playing a game in October that means something in the SEC race and ESPN's "College GameDay" on hand to watch it?

"I have a lot of pride in the fact that I'm at a place like Vanderbilt," said senior safety Reshard Langford, one of the team captains. "Not everybody can do what we do. I keep my head high every day, because this is a special place." . . .

Bobby Johnson had a similar vision when he arrived in Nashville in 2002. At the time, he was the fifth different head football coach at Vanderbilt in the preceding 13 years.

But whereas some of his predecessors fought the rigid academic standards that make coaching at Vanderbilt such a daunting challenge in the SEC, Johnson embraced them.

His recruiting pitch, though, included a twist.

"We don't want you if you just want to come here to be a doctor or a lawyer," Johnson said. "But if you want to come here to be a doctor and a lawyer and you also want to be a good football player, then this is the place for you." . . .

"Bobby has just the right temperament and understanding of this place, and that's important," said David Williams, Vanderbilt's vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics. "Not only do you need time and stability to do this job, but you need someone who is on their own mission and that mission is, 'We're going to get it done here, and we're going to maintain it.'" . . .

Johnson, who coached powerhouse Division I-AA teams at academically renowned Furman before coming to Vanderbilt, estimates that probably only about 15 percent of the recruiting pool the rest of the SEC works off of is available to Vanderbilt because of the school's strict entrance requirements.

And just because that 15 percent consists of prospects with strong academic backgrounds doesn't mean all the other schools aren't recruiting them. . . .

Links: Fulmer Cup History; Rutgers AD Salaries; Greg Schiano Salary; Vanderbilt Reorganization one and two

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Link Roundup October 2

The NCAA has reaffirmed penalties in two infractions cases:

The first, involving the University of Arkansas, surrounds the vacation of the 2004 and 2005 Outdoor Track and Field titles, in which Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay was instrumental. Arkansas, despite being a double-repeat violator, had whined that the penalties were excessive since they were the result of actions by a 'rogue assistant coach.' Kudos to the NCAA for standing its ground.

The second involves a show-cause coaching ban levied against former Long Beach State assistant basketball coach Reggie Howard, who was at the center of a doozy of an infractions case in which the judgment came down in March.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere:

There is an excellent post by SportsProf on Harvard basketball coach Tommy Amaker's continuing moves to upset the apple cart of Ivy League athletics.

University Diaries continues her chronicling of the criminal adventures of the University of Montana football team.

'Redefining' Division III?

WOW! A MOMENT ON TENURE-TRACK TO BLOG! Too bad it is the result of a sick day. . .

There is an interesting article at Inside Higher Education which should be required reading for anyone concerned with preserving NCAA Division III, which remains the last bastion of true amateurism in college sports. With the failure this spring of proposals that would have split Division III into two divisions, some institutions continue to advocate nixing its core principle:

"[Division III Institutions] Shall not award financial aid to any student on the basis of athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance."
From the article:
The Division III Presidents Council released a report last week outlining some of the key issues that the division must address as its membership continues to swell and now that proposals to create either a subdivision within it or a completely separate Division IV failed last spring. . . .

Perhaps most striking is the report’s notation that nearly two-thirds of the surveyed members of the division responded that “consideration of leadership in athletics (e.g., team captain) in the awarding of financial aid should be allowed provided it is consistent with the consideration of leadership in other student activities.” . . .

“I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that in the survey,” says John Fry, president of Franklin & Marshall College and chair of the President’s Council. “When one of your bedrock principles is in question, that’s more than a philosophical difference. What would separate us from Divisions I and II? One of the big differences between us is how we view financial aid. We put student first and athlete next. Frankly, if that changes, I don’t know what we’re doing.” . . .
This, ultimately, is the heart of the matter:
Some argue that enrollment pressures might cause a tuition-strapped institution — such as the profile of many new Division III members — to favor offering some sort of financial aid that considers athletic ability. Partial financial aid for athletic leadership might help these institutions garner more recruits and, in time, more revenue from their tuition. These institutions have a place, loyalists argue — just not in Division III.

“If financial aid is driving enrollment, then there’s another option for those schools, and that’s Division II,” says James T. Harris, president of Widener University and a member of the Division III President’s Council. “I can’t foresee a day when Division III would allow athletic scholarships. I don’t think that’s a reasonable future.”

EXCELLENT. And it should be noted that any athlete at a Division III school is perfectly welcome, and indeed encouraged, to apply for need-based financial aid. It is, of course, the only reason that a middle-class kid like myself was able to attend, and ski at a college like Bates, where the comprehensive fee this year hit $49,350.